There’s no sugarcoating it, October was a horrible month for Reading, even just on the pitch. The Royals played six games in total, losing five (all of which were league matches), although there was the respite of dispatching Swindon Town 5-0 in the Pizza Trophy.
Reading can’t really say they were that unlucky to lose any of those five. An error-strewn 3-1 loss at Northampton Town was followed up a poor showing and late defeat at Leyton Orient, before a capitulation at Charlton Athletic, horror show at home to Fleetwood Town and finally another capitulation, this time blowing a two-goal lead to Portsmouth.
Naturally, performances were poor across the board, bar the odd exception. The overall average in our Player Ratings for October comes out at 5.43/10, distinctly short of August (5.93) and September (6.02), although the latter included a season-high demolition of Exeter City in the Papa Cup, skewing the number somewhat.
Speaking of September performances, that month’s POTM winner (which I again forgot to announce properly at the time - oops) was Caylan Vickers. He got 43% of the vote, enough to beat Ben Elliott (22%), Charlie Savage and David Button (both 18%).
As for this month’s shortlist, I’ve cut it back to just three options. I’ve also tried to focus on those who did fairly well across the month, rather than just in the Swindon Town game (eg: Harvey Knibbs doesn’t make the cut for a month-wide award, despite scoring a hat-trick in that one game).
Average rating: 6
MOTM awards: 1st (Northampton Town A), 3rd (Leyton Orient A), 1st (Charlton Athletic)
Abbey played four times in October, missing the games against Swindon Town and Portsmouth, and had the knack of still impressing even when his teammates didn’t. That was most obvious in the Charlton game when, despite Reading losing 4-0, Abbey was still fantastic at the back, and probably kept the score down. He also did pretty well in defeats at Northampton and Orient.
It’s encouraging that, despite his young age, Abbey’s quickly become a solid and dependable player who reliably puts a shift in regardless of how the team overall is doing. That was acknowledged on the international stage too, with Abbey getting a call-up for England’s youth side.
Average rating: 5.6
MOTM awards: 3rd (Northampton Town A), 1st (Leyton Orient A)
Less of a standout all round, but Ballard was still a relative goal threat in a month when Reading struggled to find the net (in the league at least). Ballard opened his league account at Northampton, pulling the score back to 2-1, before equalising against Fleetwood at home. He essentially came up with an assist at Orient too, with his header going off the woodwork and to goalscorer Tyler Bindon.
Average rating: 6
MOTM awards: 2nd (Swindon Town H), 2nd (Charlton Athletic)
This was quietly an important month for Craig who, after taking his time to properly break into the first team, has now played four times in a row. That run includes a start against Swindon Town and then his first two league starts for Reading: away at Charlton and home to Portsmouth.
Craig stood out against Swindon - typical for someone who’s shown a lot of promise in the cup this season. But he also gave Reading’s midfield some nice balance in subsequent starts, particularly against Portsmouth when he was at the base of a three, behind Charlie Savage and Lewis Wing.
Who’s your POTM for October? Vote in the poll below or, if it doesn’t display on your device, try this link here.